I reached a turning point this weekend with regard to the way I feel about my looks.
Not that long ago, i.e. less than a year ago I wouldn’t even go outside to empty the bin without putting some make up on.
Since I was old enough to get away with wearing them, cosmetics have been my friend. I applied a generous mask foundation and powder. I turned up the drooping corners of my eyes with big ‘ticks’ of shadow, applied layer after layer of mascara, used black/blood red lipstick to distract the eye from my big teeth and general used a whole palate of colour as armour against the name calling, cruel asides and bullying I used to have to endure in secondary school.
Fortunately my ‘clarting my face with make up’ (as my Mum used to say) co-incided with the punk and new romantic era, so I fitted right in and no doubt looked the epitome of those times, with my aubergine hair, blackened eyes, sneering mouth and cold hauteur.
And when the times and make up fashion changed, it still took about 45 minutes of slappery for me to achieve a ‘mininal’ look that I could live with.
Even when going to the gym or staying with family or close friends, I would hastily apply some concealor, a bit of mascara and flesh lip colour so that they thought I woke up looking that way.
As for when A MAN stayed over, well you don’t even want to know the trouble and palaver I went through to look acceptable when he awoke, not that it ever did me any favours really. Men can smell self hatred a mile off.
But this weekend I, without even wearing my regulation huge sunglasses, not only went out without a scrap of make up, but I did a ‘before and after’ style photo shoot for a women’s magazine.
Not that I love or even accept my face, you understand. That would be far too ambitious a claim right now.
I’m just trying to get over myself and come to terms with the idea that I am more than the sum total of my looks, and that ‘me’ is more important than my appearance.
And I really ran with the experience. I laughed and joked about it, had a laugh with the other girls, bantered with the photographers and generally had a really fun day. The mood was aided by all the champagne they served with lunch but I was still very proud that I faced my fears and did it anyway.
Quite how I’ll feel when I see the end results (if I can bring myself to look at them at all) is another thing entirely, but I just felt like I needed something of a baptism of fire to get some traction with this issue, so to speak.
And over the last few days, I took it further and went to the shops completely au naturale. And whilst fewer men looked at me, women seemed to be more smiley and accepting of me. Maybe it’s because I look less aloof or imposing. But the freedom of just going out and thinking ‘Whatever’ has been immensely liberating. So what if people think I’m ugly? It actually seems more the case that I’m invisible rather than mockable, and that’s alright by me.
So I have been giving myself a bit of a pat on the back today.
Less self hatred?
It’s all coming together, I thought smugly to myself, I’m evolving more and more every day.
When I happened to log into Facebook and was met by the most hideous photos of myself that I have ever seen in my life (well for a couple of months anyway) in full glorious technicolor on my friends Tina’s profile page.
I was gobsmacked.
And as I clicked on them in horror, I remember vaguelly that she took some later in the afternoon, when a few of us were a bit, well totally, trollied.
She didn’t drink much that day, so she and the other girl in the pictures look fine.
Well gorgeous actually.
Whereas I look absolutely hideous.
For a start, is obvious that I am pissed. My eyes are closed in half of them, in the other half I look totally out of it, and in all of them I am just downright coyote ugly.
My response was instantaneous.
My temper soared.
I immediately sent texts and emails to my hapless friend, pretty much saying ‘WTF Tina?! If you are my friend, TAKE THESE DOWN OR CROP ME OUT OF THEM! I hate them!’
I was absolutely livid and my hands were shaking on the mouse as I scrolled through them again, again and again. What kind of friend would upload these, knowing how I feel about my looks? So when she called me on my mobile I was ready to pounce.
Before she can get a word out I hiss ‘What were you thinking Tina? Don’t tell me you thought they were nice photos of me because you know they’re not!’
‘I thought they were, when they were little! I didn’t have my glasses so I couldn’t see them properly!’ she stammered, clearly in distress, ‘Then when I uploaded them I….’
‘Well of course,YOU look lovely in them!’ I continued bitterly, bristling with self righteous indignation ‘Good for you, and I can see why YOU want them on YOUR page, but the very least you could have done was crop me out of them!’
‘I didn’t mean to upset you! I’m sorry, I’m taking them offline now, I’m so sorry…’
‘Sorry, I have go, I’m going out, ‘ I snapped briskly in reply, ‘speak to you later.’
And I put the phone down.
Some friend! Of all the selfish, vain, stupid….
…she always looks stunning, it’s alright for her…..
…didn’t give a shit about me….
…all over Facebook…..
Let’s go through that check list again:
Less self hatred?
No. I was jealous of my friend because she looked nicer than me. And I’m ashamed.
This was where I rallied a bit, because once I realised how unreasonable I was being, I immediately called my poor, long suffering friend and apologised for my tirade, my paranoia and my endless self obsession.
And she was lovely. She fully got why I was upset, was mortified that she upset me and that I still hate the way I look and promised me she’d warn me if she was going to upload photos of me in future.
Especially shit ones.
Do I really want to come from under the wing of ‘Big Sista S’?
Seems like I’m not a very nice person without (much of) her.
But I’d have never even tried to do this shoot if I was still huddled up in the cloud of her 100mg a day embrace.
Onwards and upwards.
Tines, I’m a jealous, self hating arsehole, and I’m sorry I flew off the handle.
I’m trying to improve but have to acknowledge that my shit runs deep and change will only happen gradually and not overnight.
And doncha know that Rome wasn’t built in a day……
Hey, hey, hey….